Mock Draft Monday: The Replacements

It’s a Mock Draft Monday and that means for most analysts its time to just throw crap up against the wall and hope it sticks. On this edition of Mock Draft Monday I am going to give you some replacement players.

Replacement players are guys that could fill a position of need if the Titans cannot get one of the top guys at that position. Some players will have already been on your radar, but hopefully I can provide some names and options you may not be too familiar with.

Also, going to update you on who the most accurate Mock Drafters have the Titans taking in their mocks, while also giving you version 3.0 of my mock draft for the 1st Round of the NFL Draft.

Mocking the Titans

2021’s Most Accurate Mock Drafts

  • Josh Norris (Underdog Fantasy): Tyler Linderbaum, iOL, Iowa (4.5.22)
  • Xavier Cromartie (College Football Metrics): Tyler Smith, OT, Tulsa (4.6.22)
  • Trevor Sikkema (PFF): Tyler Smith, OT, Tulsa (3.18.22)

Most Accurate Mock Drafts, 5 year Average

Brendan Donahue (Sharp Football): Tyler Linderbaum, iOL, Iowa (4.11.22)

Brian Philpot (The Football Hub): Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State (4.15.22)

Still on the Board: Desmond Ridder, Andrew Booth Jr, Tyler Linderbaum, George Pickens

My Take: This one will be a decisive one for the Titans community. Everyone recognizes that wide receiver is a need for the Titans, and this particular mock has seven wide receivers going in the first round, with the usual top-5 off the board by the Titans pick, and Watson being drafted after Dotson.

In my opinion if the Titans are forcing WR in this scenario at pick 26, then George Pickens, and Skyy Moore would be their choice over Dotson. That is just a. gut feeling. Dotson has the chance to be a very good wide receiver, but I don’t think he will ever be a game changer in.

My pal, Stoney Keeley, put it best on Twitter recently with my feelings about Dotson’s prospects in the first round:

A player like Dotson would never live up to his first round draft value, and probably would have a hard time facing more athletic corners. People think he has some elite speed, but he’s more bursty than deep speed. My preference would be taking a swing on the aforementioned wide receivers.

I think the idea of Andrew Booth there at 26 is a little tantalizing given how the board fell, and it wouldn’t truly shock me if the Titans went best player available. However, in the end, I think the two most likely scenarios are trading back, or taking Desmond Ridder.

Evan Silva (Establish the Run): Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss (4.13.22)

Still on the Board: Kenyon Green, Desmond Ridder, Jr, Tyler Linderbaum

My Take: In a shocking move, Silva has decided to have the Titans take Matt Corral with pick 26. Here’s what he said:

Tennessee can save nearly $18 million by cutting Ryan Tannehill after 2022. Corral is a dynamic athlete and accurate passer with a lightning-quick release. He warrants comparisons to Tony Romo.

Evan Silva on Matt Corral

I have been an advocate for the idea that the Titans are seriously considering taking a quarterback in the first round. Even Jon Robinson has said all positions are on the table, but Corral at 26 seems like it would be out from no where. I would think if quarterback is the idea, that Ridder or Howell would be higher on their board than Corral.

Corral, as I put it, is a mystery box at the next level. I really like everything I see on the field, but I also have a hard time reconciling his thin frame and the rigors of the NFL. However, if he is able to sit a year and gain some muscle mass, while learning a more difficult NFL offensive scheme that asks more from him, then you could have a guy with the traits necessary to bring the offense into the 21st century in 2023.

Right now, Corral is the consensus 34th best player on big boards across the media. That would put him somewhere around or between the Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes dots, and close to the Lamar Jackson dot. Corral has all the traits that could put him in the conversation with those guys, who were all deemed after thoughts in their respective classes.

Fun Fact: Heading into the 2017 draft, there was very little difference in most big boards between Mahomes and Deshone Kizer.

You could argue that Kenyon Green would be the pick, but with the ever inflating cost of veteran quarterbacks, having the fifth year option on a guy you can develop, and shedding $18m in cap space in 2023, should trump the guard position.

The Replacements

So let’s say the board just doesn’t swing the Titans way, and they decide to go a route no one is expecting. Who can they draft later, that will still have the same impact of some of these top players?

For this experiment I will have some help using ESPN’s recently released Draft Day Predictor tool, and Dane Brugler’s “The Beast”. Let’s take a look.

They miss out on the QBs

  • Round 3: None
  • Round 4: Bailey Zappe, WKU / Carson Strong, Nevada
  • Round 5: None
  • Round 6: Aqeel Glass, Alabama A&M

My Take: If they don’t get a quarterback in round one, and just let the draft fall as is, I would be personally against them using a pick on a quarterback in rounds three through five. I just don’t see the point when you could grab someone who can contribute in some form or fashion with that pick.

However, if the Titans are in round six and Aqeel Glass is being overlooked they’re probably considering taking him now, or signing him as an UDFA. I would understand taking a chance on someone like Glass in round six

They miss out on Zion Johnson or Kenyon Green

  • Round 3: Cole Strange, UTC / Dylan Parham, Memphis
  • Round 4: Thayer Munford, Ohio St. / Cade Mays, UT
  • Round 5: Chris Paul, Tulsa
  • Round 6: Cordell Volson, NDSU

My Take: If the Titans forego one of the top guards in the first round, there are easily some capable replacements to find. First, let’s get Round Four out of the way.

If the Titans find themselves still needing a guard in the fourth round I think they should continue to hold off. I am not a big fan of either of those prospects typically considered fourth round prospects, I would much rather wait and grab Chris Paul or Cordell Volson later.

Both Paul and Volson are college offensive tackles that project better at the NFL level in the guard spot. Now, I wouldn’t expect either of them to start on day one, and that means this team has basically handed the keys to Jamarco Jones to start at left guard, but in 2023, you should have that left guard spot locked up for a few more years.

My favorite prospects at guard, and the spot where I would take one 9 times out of 10, and that’s the third round where the Titans absolutely should snatch up Cole Strange or Dylan Parham. I think both could have the chance to start day one in 2022, and would immediately be impact players for the offensive line.

I love Parham’s versatility, and the fact he was able to add pounds to his frame. He has played all over the offensive line, and even has history as a tight end. Strange is just a two-tone blue dude in my opinion. He’s a nasty player with the ability to do whatever is asked for him. I would love for the Titans to find a way to walk out with one of these guys in the draft.

They miss out on the Trevor Penning

  • Round 3: Nicholas Petit-Frere, Ohio St.
  • Round 4: Zach Tom, Wake Forest
  • Round 5: Obinna Eze, TCU
  • Round 6: Vederian Lowe, Illinois

My Take: While I like Petit-Frere’s tape, it’s a lot to type and say, so selfishly I hope they pass on him. Always have to consider how someone else’s choice affects me. Now if NPF falls in the draft and he is there in round four or five I am all in.

Here’s the thing about taking a tackle in this draft: What’s his role? Is he a right tackle coming in to compete or allowing Radunz to move to left guard? Is he a future left tackle that is waiting in the wings for Lewan’s final game as Titan to be completed?

The Radunz experiment leaves a lot of the roster questions unsettled. No one knows what he is, and if he will even start, so I can’t rule out that this team ends up taking a tackle in this draft. I like Zach Tom and Obinna Eze the best from a value standpoint.

Eze is a Nashville native, and stands at 6’8″, weighing 334 lbs, he’s definitely a project, but with his athleticism, and wingspan, he would be someone worth taking the time to develop. Zach Tom is interesting because he has spent the last two seasons at left tackle, but he has the ability to play center as well.

How much weight can Tom add? Lewan weighed 309 lbs at the combine, but added ten pounds as his career progressed. At his pro day, Tom weighed 307 lbs, but this is up from his listed weight at Wake Forest at 295 lbs, so how much more can he truly add. Also, an alarming amount of analysts are projecting his best fit as a Center.

Veteran Lowe is a prospect the Titans have used a top-30 visit on. He should be a UDFA option, but again, if the Titans feel like another team could snatch him up in the 7th round they may be poised to go ahead and draft him early in the 6th. He has good size and average athleticism. He would strictly be a right tackle project in my opinion.

They miss out on the “Route Runners”, Chris Olave & Garrett Wilson

  • Round 3: John Metchie, Alabama / David Bell, Purdue
  • Round 4: Khalil Shakir, Boise State
  • Round 5: Charleston Rambo, Miami
  • Round 6: Josh Johnson, Tulsa

My Take: I am a John Metchie guy all day long. No one in this class, including Olave and Wilson, is a better, more polished route runner, in my opinion. Metchie has a fierce work ethic and devotion to his craft that is unmatched, and to me he is a guy the Titans would absolutely love to fall to pick 90. Out of all the third round wide receivers listed in this article, Metchie is the guy I like the most.

Granted the ACL tear is a bummer and you won’t have him for most of his first year, but the Titans can sign Will Fuller and have him for 8 games, and then he gets injured and Metchie steps in. I am a man of solutions.

I like David Bell who has seemed to tumble down a little bit in rankings due to a lack of elite explosive traits by NFL standards, but he has been super productive. He is a high floor, low ceiling wide receiver that has the toughness and body control to be a productive NFL wide receiver. His coaches also rave about the person off-field. Bell had 17 games out of 29 with 100 yards receiving. Bell is essentially Michael Pittman, a dependable pass catcher, who will be good value in the third round.

Khalil Shakir seemed to be a projected 2nd round talent to start this offseason, but has seen his stock drop due to others’ stocks rising. Shakir is a slot only guy in my opinion, and while the Titans don’t necessarily need a slot-only guy, if they were to be able to nab Shakir in the 4th round, it would be an absolute boon for the team.

Shakir is crafty in his route running, and is a natural hand catcher while on the move. He’s described as selfless and a true team guy, he can also handle some return responsibilities. Here’s the kicker: Shakir accounted for a first down or a touchdown on 75.3% of his catches. Wow, and to think people have a 4th round grade on a guy like this. (I have a 2nd round grade on him still.)

Charleston Rambo and Josh Johnson really don’t do much for me. If I am choosing one of the two with a gun to my head to be on the Titans, it would be Rambo. Johnson just doesn’t have anything about him that translates well on the NFL level, while at least Rambo can be a productive third wide receiver. I think a lot about what Rambo does is a little bit better than what a WR like Cedrick Wilson brings to the table.

They miss out on the “Big Wide Receivers”, Treylon Burks & Drake London

  • Round 3: Alec Pierce, Cincinnati
  • Round 4: Justyn Ross, Clemson
  • Round 5: Makai Polk, Miss. St
  • Round 6: Isaiah Weston, Northern Iowa

My Take: Despite being called the next Randy moss, Christian Watson has a good chance at landing in round three, but I left him off because there is a ton of overhype surrounding him, and let me tell you, he will have a hard time living up to it.

This is a very uninspiring group of wide receivers to choose from, and all have their big flaws. So hopefully the Titans aren’t really aiming for a big bodied wide receiver in this class, unless it’s Burks. Burks all day.

Alec Pierce is probably the most likely on the list to land on the Titans. The issue I have with Pierce is that he was slow to develop and he has a basic route tree. What I love about Pierce is his attitude and his athleticism. Guess what? he loves to run block too. He can develop into a full-time starter.

Justyn Ross has been doomed with bad luck. Not only did he come back for the 2021 season, and have to play with a horrible quarterback, but he came back after having spinal surgery in 2020. He probably has the biggest catch radius in the class, and has the skills to take advantage of that. People will hate on his athleticism, but its very similar to Tee Higgins. So everything about Ross’s evaluation from teams will hinge on his medicals.

Makai Polk is a big wide receiver in terms of height, other than that he is a lean wide receiver, but has the length and ball-tracking skills you could develop into something worthwhile in the fifth round. He may be nothing more than a Tajae Sharpe, but even Tajae found success in Tennessee.

If you’re a Christian Watson fan, can I interest you in Isaiah Weston on Day 3 instead? Weston is Watson, Watson is Weston. Weston is a massive wide receiver that has the athletic traits to also be a field stretcher. He is a four year starter as well. If you’re looking for dart throws in the 6th round taking one on Weston makes sense for this team, but he can’t be the only addition at wide receiver in the draft.

They miss out on the “Deep Threat” Jameson Williams

  • Round 3: Jalen Tolbert, UAB / Wan’Dale Robinson, Kentucky / Calvin Austin, Memphis
  • Round 4: Bo Melton, Rutgers
  • Round 5: Kevin Austin, Notre Dame / Tyquan Thornton, Baylor
  • Round 6: Velus Jones, Tennessee

My Take: Bring me Jalen Tolbert. If Tolbert, who should be a 2nd round pick, is there at pick 90, the Titans should be running to the podium to draft him. In 2021, Tolbert had the 6th most deep catches, and 6th most deep yards. He is a super athletic, and has big hands, long arms to snatch balls out of the air with ease. While Tolbert isn’t DeSean Jackson fast, what he is is a smooth athlete, that is a range downfield threat. Immediate impact for this team.

One of the more hotly contested debates in my mentions is whether not Wan’Dale Robinson can be that guy at the next level. While anything is possible the odds are stacked against both him and Calvin Austin. Their size really hinders their chances at being impact players at the next level.

Specifically, at their height and weight there has been only one impact player with a long career, and that is Lance Moore who was an undrafted free agent pick up by the Saints. Moore ended up playing 10 years in the league, the first 8 seasons with the Saints. He average 535 yards, and 5 TDs a season. That’s not bad for an undrafted free agent, but that also goes to show you the uphill climb these two players have ahead of them.

If I am choosing one of these guys, its most definitely Calvin Austin. As NoFlagsFilm puts it: Calvin Austin is so much better than Wan’Dale. Austin is just so much more physical than Austin, and has actual explosiveness and elite athleticism. While Robinson isn’t a slouch in the speed department, he has only been a slot receiver, and only has one full season as a starter at WR. Where as Austin is a multi-year starter and mainly played on the outside.

Melton is a fascinating prospect, who chose the wrong school. Rutgers balanced approach leaves the box score stats looking bare, but despite never reaching 650 yards in a season, he led the team in receiving for three consecutive seasons. Melton has NFL deep speed, and excellent body control that will get defenders off-balance and he can exploit holes in coverage. Melton is going to be that guy that has people saying: “How did teams pass on that guy?”

Kevin Austin, Jr’s career was sidetracked due to injuries and suspensions, so he only has one year of being a full-time starter under his belt, but he is a talented pass catcher with elite athleticism, that if a team can help him get his mind right, he could end up being a force.

Tyquan Thornton doesn’t really do much for me, but I could be talked into Velus Jones. Jones has a limited route tree, but he is absolutely a gamer. He is compact, and can fly, if the Titans could coach him up, he could be what they thought Racey McMath and Chester Rogers were.

Conclusion

While this is not what I set out to accomplish when writing this article, I do find myself gravitating that the value for the Titans would be to take a quarterback in round one, while grabbing guys that can create impact in later rounds. This allows you to have roster flexibility for 2023 and beyond with a higher salary cap, and a rookie quarterback deal.

If I were to build the ideal draft it would look like this:

Round 1: Their Top QB
Round 3: Cole Strange, iOL or Dylan Parham, iOL
Round 4: Khalil Shakir, WR or Bo Melton, WR
Round 4: Best Available TE
Round 5: Obinna Eze, OT
Round 6: Best Available DB
Round 6: Best Available Player

My Mock Draft v 3.0 (Changes in Bold)

PICKTEAMPLAYERPOS.COLLEGE
1JaguarsAidan HutchinsonEDGEMichigan
2LionsTravon WalkerEDGEOregon
3TexansKayvon ThibodeauxEDGEGeorgia
4JetsJermaine JohnsonEDGEFlorida St
5GiantsEvan NealOTAlabama
6PanthersKenny PickettQBPittsburgh
7GiantsAhmad GardnerCBCincinnati
8FalconsJameson WilliamsWRAlabama
9SeahawksIkem EkwonuOTNC State
10JetsDrake LondonWRUSC
11CommandersKyle HamiltonSNotre Dame
12VikingsDerek Stingley Jr.CBLSU
13TexansCharles CrossOTMiss. State
14RavensGeorge KarlaftisEDGEPurdue
15EaglesAndrew Booth Jr.CBClemson
16SaintsMalik WillisQBLiberty
17ChargersTrevor PenningOTN. Iowa
18EaglesJordan DavisDTGeorgia
19SaintsChris OlaveWROhio State
20SteelersDevonte WyattDTGeorgia
21PatriotsNakobe DeanLBGeorgia
22PackersDevin LloydLBUtah
23CardinalsKenyon GreenIOLTexas A&M 
24CowboysGarrett WilsonWROhio State
25BillsKaiir ElamCBFlorida
26TitansTreylon BurksWRArkansas
27BuccaneersZion JohnsonIOLBoston College
28PackersTyler SmithOTTulsa
29ChiefsTrent McDuffieCBWashington
30ChiefsJahan DotsonWRPenn State
31BengalsTyler LinderbaumIOLIowa
32LionsDesmond RidderQBCincinnati

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